Is there anything good about presidential political campaigns starting so early? Ken Blackwell, FRC’s new Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment, says there is:
There appears to be every possibility that ideas will ultimately decide the nomination, perhaps for both parties. The thinking primary has begun. That’s a welcome sign, because this is the primary that matters, and if there is any advantage to having our presidential competitions start almost two years away from Election Day it’s the opportunity to examine and think about our options.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but in South Carolina, it could also be worth a thousand lives. This week, while I was in South Carolina speaking at North Greenville University, the state House passed a groundbreaking bill that which would require women who are considering an abortion to see an ultrasound of their unborn child. The measure passed by a 68-vote margin. The legislation now heads to the state Senate for approval, and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) has indicated that he’ll sign the bill if it reaches his desk.
The legislation would be Planned Parenthood’s worst nightmare. For years, ignorance has been bliss for the abortion industry. They believe that sex education, even for pre-teens, should “show it all,” but throw a developing baby into the mix and they rush for the lens cover. This proposal gives women the opportunity to see their babies face to face, discover their reality, and then make an informed decision.
This week, after a six-year absence, Al Gore was greeted more like a liberal folk hero on Capitol Hill than a former vice president. His newfound fame, provided in part by two Oscar awards, helped persuade Senate Environment and Public Works chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to relax the rules on his global warming testimony. Unlike others called to testify, Gore was not required to submit his planned testimony 48 hours in advance. Instead Boxer waived the rule, giving Gore preferential treatment and allowing committee members only a few hours to prepare for the hearing.
During the session, Gore’s “Chicken Little” scenarios were met with skepticism, particularly from Senate Republicans like Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) who said he, like many scientists, believed the dire global warming projections were a “hoax.” On the House side, the former vice president was called a prophet by some Democratic members but his revelations were challenged by others. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) cited 600,000-year-old scientific evidence that Gore’s carbon dioxide claims are false.
When Gore introduced a 10-point plan to make the environment a U.S. priority, conservatives argued that taking the steps he proposed would stifle the economy and harm the family. Mr. Gore is not the first prophet of doom. Not unlike 19th century political economist Thomas Malthus, who urged drastic steps to limit population growth because of the scarcity of resources, the proposed cure is more intrusive government. In time Malthus was proved wrong, but his heirs love on.
While the country awaits a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of public funding of faith-based social services, a secularist group launched a related suit. Americans United for the Separation of Church and State tried, unsuccessfully, to strip funds from a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grant recipient because of its religious roots.
For years, the Northwest Marriage Institute has provided marriage workshops in an effort to strengthen relationships and eliminate poverty. Impressed by the organization’s strong track record, the Administration for Children & Families awarded the group three grants so that low-income couples could take the secular seminars for free. None of the funds were used for the biblical workshops, yet former ACLU chief Barry Lynn’s organization argued that Northwest’s religious affiliation should exclude it from participating in government programs.
Fortunately, Federal District Judge Franklin Burgess disagreed, ruling, “[It] has never been held that religious institutions are disabled by the First Amendment from participating in publicly sponsored social welfare programs.” We applaud the Alliance Defense Fund, which represented the Institute and successfully convinced the court that religious groups—that provide valuable social services cannot be treated like “second-class citizens.”
As you fill out this year’s IRS paperwork, enjoy your family tax breaks. If the new Senate leadership has its way, they may be among your last. This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) unveiled a resolution that calls for a balanced budget by 2012. While it seems like an insurmountable task, liberals have found an easy solution. They’ll simply reverse every GOP tax cut and raise an extra $900 billion in revenue.
As part of the plan, Democrats would reinstate the tax penalty on married couples, causing the standard deduction for joint filers to shrink from 200 to 167 percent by 2011. Also, liberals recommend slashing the child tax credit in half, reducing it from $1,000 to $500. Although Congress has managed to whittle the death taxes down to nearly nothing under the current code, Democrats would resurrect them in four short years. Unfortunately, the tax rates would rise substantially in every bracket, even among low-income taxpayers who would be forced to pay Uncle Sam at a 15 percent rate. Under the measure, taxes on both dividends and capital gains would increase by January 2009.
Although painful, this would help erase the U.S. budget deficit, right? Wrong. Reid’s legislation actually increases spending for health care, education, and transportation projects. Republicans are understandably frustrated by the proposal, which could lead to the biggest tax increase in history. Families, who were finally experiencing some tax relief under President Bush, would again be forced to shoulder a heavy financial burden—not to ease American debt—but to pay for Democrats’ pet programs. As Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) said, “As we [start to debate] the budget… we shouldn’t begin with a plan to grow an even more massive bureaucracy on the backs of the American taxpayer.”
Monday at the National Press Club, pro-family leaders from the U.S. and Canada gathered for a press conference. The topic was the upcoming meeting of the World Congress of Families (WCF), which is being held in Warsaw, Poland on May 11-13. In an exciting development, the Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, has agreed to serve as honorary patron and to give the opening address. Speakers at the press conference, including FRC’s Senior Fellow Bill Saunders, noted the importance of the family to the health of societies, as well as the pressures families face from bad governmental policies.
The meeting in Warsaw will feature speakers from around the world who will diagnose family ills and offer practical solutions. FRC will be there, and we urge pro-family activists in the U.S. to come as well. What happens in Europe affects the U.S., as European nations exhibit the characteristics of nations that follow policies of radical secularism and social pessimism. This Warsaw meeting promises to be a true springtime for a united, worldwide effort to promote the family.
The House leadership, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and company, is moving forward with bills that undermine the U.S. Constitution. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a ruling that would have given native Hawaiians “sovereignty.” New legislation that would have a similar effect has been quietly introduced under the name “Hawaiian Homeownership Opportunity Act.” The bill could lead to exempting Hawaiians from the Constitution and allowing them to create their own race-based government.
A second proposal, which would give the District of Columbia its own representative in the House, has come under fire from the White House for being “unconstitutional.” The measure has already passed through two House committees and Pelosi vows to secure the bill’s approval on the floor.
Finally, as if there weren’t enough hot air in Congress this week, Al Gore is paying a visit to Capitol Hill to offer his flawed research as grounds for U.S. climate change legislation. He was invited to testify before a joint subcommittee despite the fact that scientists are increasingly critical of his methods and conclusions.